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Thoughts on Canada’s Nations League win over French Guiana

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The reds continue to roll

Bob Frid - Canada Soccer

Canada remain unbeaten under head coach John Herdman following a 4-1 victory over French Guiana last night at BC Place. Lucas Cavallini led the way for the team with a pair of goals, while Jonathan David and Junior Hoilett also found the back of the net.

The win clinched Canada second overall in the Concacaf Nations League qualifying standings. It also means qualification for this summer’s Gold Cup, as well as for the top division of Concacaf Nations League, which starts up this fall.

Here are some thoughts on what we learned from Canada’s performance.

Error doesn’t cost Canada

It was a calamitous play that momentarily looked like it would derail Canada’s game. A poor back-pass from the usually solid Samuel Piette was met with an even more bizarre attempted skill from goalkeeper Milan Borjan. He ultimately lost the ball, and French Guiana were gifted an equalizer.

In a game Canada were expected to win handily, in front of their home fans, that could have really set things off the rails. Instead, Canada quickly regrouped and scored two more goals before half-time.

Evidently, the team will face bigger moments of adversity than this if they want to achieve their goals. But it was a good sign that the team’s mentality is in a good place going into the high pressure games they will face this summer.

Mark-Anthony Kaye excellent in his return

Due to a fractured ankle, it had been a calendar year since Mark-Anthony Kaye stepped onto the field for Canada. He did so last night as a left back, something of surprise decision from John Herdman even if the now-midfielder had spent time there during his formative years in the Toronto FC system.

Safe to say the experiment worked. Kaye was excellent in the role both defensively and especially offensively. Himself and Junior Hoilett combined very well down the left flank and Kaye played multiple dangerous crosses, including one that connected with Lucas Cavallini on the fourth Canadian goal.

He was also able to use the role to tuck inside and play passes through the midfield. There may be questions as to whether the role would hold up defensively against better opposition, but with Scott Arfield back in the lineup and midfield spots at a premium, Kaye at left back might be an option going forward.

Training ground trickery from Canada

It seems like Herdman and his staff spent a little extra time going over a few trick plays with Canada in training this week. They paid off. On Canada’s first goal, Hoilett played a throw in to himself off the back of Kaye before taking off towards the box in a play that ultimately resulted in the opening goal.

Canada also tried a few different combinations and routines on corners, one of which in the first half nearly resulted in a fantastic goal after a Jonathan Osorio cross was missed by Derek Cornelius. It’s something to watch for going forward, as it’s clear Canada are looking for multiple ways to get an edge in games.

Jonathan David Canada’s best player during qualifiers

With a goal and an assist against French Guiana, 19-year-old Jonathan David had four goals and three assists during qualifiers. Regardless of opposition, that’s a very impressive output in his first four senior men’s national team games.

While Cavallini had a brace, it was David who was Canada’s biggest attacking threat throughout the match. With the way he is playing in Belgium for KAA Gent, he had no shortage of confidence as he skipped around defenders and combined incredibly well with teammates.

It was his runs in behind that led to Canada’s crucial pair of goals two minutes apart towards the end of the first half. The first he squared perfectly for Cavallini, and the second he calmly finished himself. He could have had more on the night, but he is one of the players that makes it easy to get excited about the future of this national team.